Published Sep 05, 2014Interpol's record trajectory has been a steady decline, from their impressive debut LP, 2002's Turn on the Bright Lights, to their lukewarmly-received self-titled record, released in 2010. While El Pintor bucks the trend by being better than its immediate predecessor, it still finds the post-punk revivalists a bit off from the sinister, calculated masterminds they were at their genesis.
El Pintor's best moments are when the band tries something new, like the abrupt tempo shift 50 seconds into opener "All the Rage Back Home," that turns the slurred track into a bruising barroom rocker. While the band no longer have the jumping bass lines of Carlos Dengler, "Everything is Wrong" brings Banks' fuzzy, chugging bass to the forefront before a tempestuous chorus.
However, some of the album is dragged down by sloppy, thin guitar lines and Banks' nasal, reverb-drowned voice; tracks like "Same Town, New Story" and "Breaker 1" sound hollow and occasionally tuneless, and lack the shadowy punch of the band's older material, dulled by the copious amounts of reverb that negate any attempt at sharpness, as on the otherwise-great "My Blue Supreme."
The band does come together for a great closer with "Twice as Hard," featuring a complex 5/4 time signature which adds a bit of swing to the mix to end the album on a confident, menacing note. While El Pintor is no Turn on the Bright Lights or Antics, the record finds Interpol climbing out of their mediocre rut, slowly but surely. (Matador)